Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Will Write For Sprinkles. (Motivation for handwriting practice)

My husband was very impressed with how our first grader wrote his numbers from 0-100 on the first day of school.  "Wow, that's pretty impressive."  "How does he do that?"  He asked.

Let me set the record straight.  Mr. Incredible was not impressed that our son could write the numbers.  He could do that last year.  What was so impressive was how he wrote the numbers.  Two was flipped over and turned upside down, and the number seven more closely resembled the letter "L".  Eights laid lazily on their sides and nines could be mistaken for "p"s, "d"s, or "b"s depending on which box you looked at.  Almost every number was flipped, inverted, or  contorted in one way or another.  It really was quite impressive!

My jaw had almost dropped when I saw what a mess he had made of the numbers.  It was so overwhelming that I didn't even bother correcting him.  I simply said, "Good Job!  You got all the numbers in the right order."  My next two thoughts were:  "This year we are tackling handwriting with ferocity,"  and "could my son be dyslexic?"  (I'm going to leave that topic for later because I'm still pondering and researching that train of thought.)

I started assigning quite a bit of writing and monitored him closely so that every letter was formed perfectly.  Needless to say after a few of days of this he got frustrated!  I got frustrated!  It was just plain frustrating!

I know it's not an attention issue, because he can sit for more than an hour drawing and writing stories about his pictures.  It's not about coordination; he's quite adept at making the pencil do what he wants it to do.  I believe that for him it is just plain boring!  It's hard to concentrate on something you don't want to do.  He stretches, he taps his pencil, he doodles, he looks around and sings.  He does everything else except for complete his writing assignment.  When tears were produced, I felt sorry for him.  I needed to do something to make it easier for him.

What could I do to help him stay on task?

First, I pared the down the assignments a little so as to be less intimidating.  Next, I added this ingredient that helped tremendously:  SPRINKLES!   He'll do almost anything for sweets so I decided to put one little tiny sugar sprinkle before each writing line and I told him he could eat them as he finished the lines.  He loved it!  He still doesn't like to practice writing, but the tiny rewards help him get through the assignment without tears or complaints.  And best of all, his handwriting is improving.  I don't know how many sprinkles it's going to take, but I'll keep setting out one teensy confection next to each word or line as long as he continues to write for sprinkles.

Note:  I try not to bribe my children with candy very often, but sometimes I'm willing to do whatever it takes.  By the way, the sprinkles are so tiny that they don't even amount to one piece of candy so I don't feel bad at all about using them.  If you don't like that I reward my child with refined sugar and artificial colors, don't mention it : )  


  1. Anonymous11.10.11

    I love this...so colorful and simple motivation works. And he is learning! Jen

  2. Thanks, it's working great. It's kind of like an edible checklist : )

  3. Anonymous13.10.11

    I should do that at work haha! -Jen


You're next...